Sunday, April 1, 2012

U17 - shape, movement and support

This morning we worked with the U17 boys.  This is a tough balance because right now a lot of the boys have high school soccer so you have to be careful of how much fitness work you do.  Some of the high school coaches in the area run the boys a lot.  And they are starting their preseason tournaments as well.

Last Wednesday, for high school soccer,  my son played 6 25-minute indoor 6v6 games (with 2 subs) between 9:30am and 3:00pm.  You have to know what's going on with the players and take proper care of them.

So, today ... we had 12 players in attendance at the Welland Soccer Club indoor field.  The only notable injury was a bruise one player had from getting spiked at school soccer training  (he wasn't wearing shin pads).

We started with a small run and dynamic stretch as always.

Our next exercise was a sequence involving turning and passing.  The pattern run was game realistic and we did 4 different turns.  Our coaching points were:
  • Dribble at pace leading into the turn
  • Head up after the turn
  • Quick-early-accurate pass after the turn
Some of the players learned new turns today and overall they were "OK" at it.  Some used a few of the turn-pass patterns in the game at the end, so that's always good. 

One coaching point I forgot to remind them of was balance during the turn so they can make a proper pass and move after the turn.  Looking at my plan, I didn't have it written down to remind myself.  My fault.

We followed this with a passing sequence that involved a minimum of 12 touches going through the pattern.  We started with 2-touch, then 1 touch passing, then 1-2 combo going through the sequence.

It was one of those exercises I enjoy where there is pressure on every player to get it right or the sequence breaks down.  It was about working to make the good pass and to run and fix the bad passes coming to you.  We are trying to instill a level of responsibility and teamwork in their passing and receiving and realizing there is more to being on a team than just having the same jersey.

They were working to keep it going and for the most part they did.  We did very little technical coaching during this portion.  It was more giving them ideas on how they would fix passes, using their athleticism to get to a stray ball  and being creative in getting it to the next guy.

I have to say, up to the game portion of training, I was happy with them.  We got a lot of movement and ball touches in.  We were all happy as coaches and the players were happy with themselves.

When we got into the game we changed gears a bit.  We wanted to see that they worked towards not having the man with the ball as the last man.   This forced some support movement.  Then we worked on the type of movement you would do when passing the ball back.  To keep it simple we said if you pass back, you make 3 steps backwards and wide,  then play is ON.  If the defender follows you then a space is opened up for the man with the ball.  If the defender goes towards him then he can use you and now it's a 2v1 which opens up a world of possibilities.

We kept the instruction on support down to those 2 points.  I want to see if we can build this group up one step at a time.  Some have had solid training at younger ages and some are playing catch-up.

Coach Loris wanted to try something and it worked fairly well.   Later in the game when he said freeze the defending team stood where they were and the attacking team had to split defenders with 'x' amount of quick passes and the game was back on.  We have to tweak it a bit but the boys seem to catch it and Loris explained it well.  I look forward to seeing where that goes.

I think it went smoothly today.  I should have been more thorough with coaching points but I always fear talking too much.  17-year-old boys want to play as much as possible.  We have 4 coaches and it's tough to keep everybody busy with only 12 players at training.  You want to avoid 4 people barking out instructions but you also want to avoid a coach doing nothing at the same time.

Next up are 2 outdoor sessions during Easter weekend.  These boys are making progress and they are fun to work with.  I appreciate how they make me feel welcome and work hard.

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